Wimberly

The Longest Living Person in My Genealogy Database: Zeola L. Portis

It’s Week 3 of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks series and this week’s prompt is “Longevity.” For this prompt, I decided to check my genealogy database and find the longest-living person.

I use TNG: The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding for my primary software program and it is easy to run statistics and find the longest-living person. This calculation can only be done when there are definitive birth and death dates, so as it stands right now, the longest-living person is Ms. Zeola L. Portis. She was born January 6, 1902, and died September 19, 2008. She was 106 years old when she passed away.

Zeola L., age 8, in the 1910 Calvert, Robertson County, TX census as the youngest child of her mother Hattie.

I learned about Zeola from a fellow genealogist who contacted me after finding my information online about my ancestors from Edgecombe County, NC – specifically, relatives of my 3rd great-grandmother, Mariah Wimberly.  Zeola’s grandparents were Reddin Battle and Amanda Wimberly and we suspect Amanda and Mariah are related – possibly sisters. If Amanda and Mariah are sisters, then I would be Zeola’s 1st cousin three times removed.

Zeola and her family were from Calvert, Robertson County, Texas. And, upon being contacted by the other genealogist and doing research, I discovered that one of Mariah’s brothers moved from Edgecombe County, NC down to that area of Texas; I’ve been able to definitively source his move and his family; in addition to tracing several other Edgecombe County families to that same area.  It is through a conversation with Zeola that my geneabuddy was able to learn about the family’s migration from North Carolina, so Zeola’s oral account, and the documentation I’ve located so far converge.

My research on Zeola and her family is far from complete, but I should re-focus and consider what steps I can take next to seek out more evidence for Amanda’s relationship to my family. I will definitely have to put my thinking cap on.

 

 

A Family Heirloom

You know what makes for a great start to the new year? Being contacted by a distant cousin who found me via Google searching -yay! My newly-found cousin is a great-granddaughter of Richard Wimberly (1860-1921) & Lina Petway (1870-1963) of Tarboro, Edgecombe County, NC.  Richard is a brother to my 3rd-great-grandmother Mariah Wimberly McNair (1843-1903).

As I spoke to my cousin on the phone this evening, she shared with me that she remembered her grandmother telling stories about the family’s departure from the Battle Plantation in Tarboro. The family story is that that when the family left the plantation, they piled their belongings up on wagons – with two rocking chairs on top.  One rocking chair fell off the wagon and broke, but the other was passed down through the generations and my cousin has it!

This is the rocking chair (it has since be refinished) of Richard & Lina’s. How fortunate that my cousin has this as a way to cherish her family history.

Finding A Cohabitation Record

Last month over the Memorial Day weekend, I attended the 45th annual reunion of my McNair family in Plymouth, Washington County, North Carolina. I was honored to be asked to speak to the family during the family church service on that Sunday.  It was such a great experience! I put together a presentation to distribute to family.

As I was preparing, I did additional clean-up on my family tree. Now, over the past several months, I’ve been adding info to FamilySearch Family Tree in my goal to ensure my research lives beyond me. Well, I was so pleased the week prior to the reunion to see an FamilySearch alert for my ancestor, Mariah Wimberly, in a collection of North Carolina marriage records.

So, I click to see the image and lo and behold, her cohabitation record to Rufus Tannahill pops up! I’d known about the existence of the cohabitation record for many years but had not seen the actual image.  In 1995, Dr. Barnetta McGhee White published a 3-volume index of the extant cohabitation records from across the state, and that is where I originally learned of the entry.  But, to actually see the record and be able to read it in it’s entirety is amazing!

It reads: “Before me, E.D. MacNair, Justice of the Peace for said county this 24th day of April AD 1866 appears Rufus Tannahill and Mariah Wimberly the said Rufus and Mariah having been lately slaves but now emancipating and acknowledge that they cohabitate together as man and wife and that such cohabitation commenced on the 11th day of Dec AD, 1859 given under my hand this day and year above written.” — E.D. MacNair (JP)

Rufus’ name in this record is Tannahill, but he would later change it to McNair. The Justice of the Peace is Edmund Duncan McNair Jr. and I suspect his father to have been Rufus’ slaveholder. This is a great record to have found indeed!  If you’re interested in searching for cohabitation records, they are part of the North Carolina, County Marriages, 1762-1979 collection at FamilySearch.

45th Annual McNair Family Reunion

Each Memorial Day Weekend my maternal grandmother’s family comes together for the McNair Family Reunion in Plymouth, North Carolina.  This year, is the 45th year and I’m so pleased to be going again! My first time going was last year. Initially, I’d planned to do a whole series of blog posts about the trip, but that didn’t happen 🙂

This year, I’m especially excited because the Reunion Committee has asked me to speak and share the family history! So, I’ve put together a handout to share with everyone and on Sunday morning I’ll give an overview of the family tree and information I’ve gathered in my research. As I was working on the handout, I created a graphic to illustrate the children of the couple from which we are all descendedRufus and Mariah (Wimberly) McNair

I’m sharing this picture on our Family Facebook group and am going to try and tag as many of the family as we can to the child that is their ancestor.

It’s going to be a great weekend and I am looking forward to seeing family again. Happy Memorial Day!

Visiting Dred Wimberly

This blog post is part of a series about my trip to Plymouth, NC for the 44th Annual McNair Family Reunion.


It was Saturday, May 24th and I was on my way to Plymouth for the family reunion. I was not only looking forward to being there, but also to the drive. The highway I took bypasses through several towns I wanted to see. My first stop was to go to Rocky Mount. Why Rocky Mount you ask?

My 3rd – great grandmother Mariah Wimberly McNair, had a brother named Dred and there is a NC historical marker for him. Dred served on the NC Senate in the late 19th century. Quite an accomplishment for a black person at that time!  It is my understanding that he had some prominence in the community so the marker was erected as a tribute. But not only is there a marker, but his house also stands. So, after all the research and reading I’ve done about him, I wanted to find it so that I could see it in person.

And find it I did. The house is located on Raleigh Blvd and Wake St, directly across the street from Pineview Cemetery.

There is no one living in the house but I saw signs that it is likely being renovated. I walked around back to see the backyard and nearly had a heart attack when two dogs got up from their resting spot and started barking at me! But they didn’t move from their location and they weren’t chained so I figured they just didn’t appreciate me traipsing through their territory.

This stop was quick but I am very glad I did take the time. My stop does raise a few more questions for me though – the primary one being to find out who owns the home? Do any of Dred’s descendants? I need to try and find out. Looks like I have some deed research to follow-up on!

40th Annual McNair Family Reunion

This Memorial Day Weekend, as it’s traditionally held, my McNair branch of the family is having their 40th Annual Reunion.  Started in 1972, I am amazed and proud of its longevity!  I’ve not yet been to one, but my maternal grandmother, Alice McNair Robinson, used to go often and has shared with me details about her family that helped inspire my love of genealogy.

In preparation for the reunion this year, at the request of a cousin, I compiled a booklet of the family tree information I currently have for the McNair family. The reunion is for the descendants of Rufus & Mariah McNair, so the booklet lists each of the branches of their children (10 who are known to have offspring).

This is the front cover I made.

For now, the booklet is purely a list of names. Next year, I hope to be able to include pictures of at least the generation of the grandkids of Rufus & Mariah. I am honored to have met at least one – my 2nd great-aunt Martha. Aunt Martha is doing well and is attending the reunion herself this year! 

I am looking forward to the feedback from this weekend and the chance to further update and make our family tree even better.  To my McNair Family – enjoy and if you aren’t going, please consider sharing what you know so that we can preserve these memories for our own descendants. 

Our McNair Family History is on the Books

A few weeks ago I had a chance to see in person the book,  Edgecombe County Heritage, North Carolina, 1735-2009.  I was thrilled to see in print my contribution to the book that I submitted in 2008.

I contributed an article on my McNair ancestry, going back to my 3rd-great grandfather Rufus Tannahill McNair and his wife, Mariah Wimberly McNair.
I did not photocopy the pages; instead I took a digital picture, but I do want to go back later and get the physical copy.

I am very glad I contributed this information for 50, 75, 100 years from now, hopefully additional descendants will come across the information I share.  I do see that the publishing company messed up my 4th great-grandfather’s name the first time it is mentioned (Allen Wimberly), but as I mention him again a couple of lines down, hopefully a smart reader will figure it out.  I also included a picture of my great-grandfather, Abraham Lincoln McNair, with my submission and several references.

I am ecstatic! 🙂  And though I didn’t submit this one, there is also a brief bio of Mariah’s brother, Dred Wimberly in the book too.

At least I know that some of my research will continue on in print format.

Tombstone Tuedsay: Dred & Ellen Wimberly

Back in June, through the kind assistance of a researcher in North Carolina, I was sent photos of the headstones and home of the brother of one of my 3rd great-grandmothers.  This is Dred Wimberly and his wife Ellen Bertha (Jenkins) Wimberly. They are buried in Unity Cemetery in Rocky Mount, NC and their home is in Tarboro.

Dred was born a slave to James S. Battle (and hence my 3g-grandma was too) and because of his relationship to Kemp Battle, his later owner, after the Civil War Dred became a member of the North Carolina General Assembly.   Having these pictures is priceless to me.

Headstone of Dred Wimberly (1868-1937)

Headstone of Ellen Bertha (Jenkins) Wimberly - d. 1945

Home of Dred Wimberly - Raleigh St, Tarboro, NC

Connections Like Wildfire

Just a quick post this time, but I’ve had so many connections come out the woodwork this week from sharing family tree information online it’s been crazy.

  • got an email from a possible cousin based on her husband’s lineage from former slaves on the Kemp P. Battle plantation in Edgecombe County, NC where my 4th great-grandparents were also slaves.  There may be a blood connection between the slaves, but we aren’t sure and so are beginning to work collaboratively on trying to figure it all out.  She found me based on a blog post I did after Robyn sent me some labor contract information
  • was contacted through Ancestry from a cousin who is descended from a sister of my 3rd great-grandfather,  Edward Kilpatrick of Craven County, NC.   I did not have any additional information for his sister Caroline, but through the cousin, I learned that she married a gentleman named Robert White and they moved to Pitt county.  More information to add to the family tree!
  • got a follow-up email related to my stepmother’s Frye ancestry.  We think we have linked her tentative 3rd great-grandfather Leonard Frye to a very large Frye family w/ ancestry going way back. more to do on that line…
  • through my genealogy site was contacted by a Koonce descendant. No relation to me, but since I collect Koonces I have part of his family tree on the site.  I will begin adding his branch to the tree later this weekend.  He is descended from Phillip H. Koonce of Shelby County, Texas.
  • was contacted by someone interested in the spouse of someone who’s tree I’ve been working on as the Picot family associated with Washington County, NC – one of my GenWeb projects.
  • my cousin emailed me tonight to call my great-uncle.  He is a brother of my maternal grandmother and is very interested in helping to figure out the origins of his Lawhorn surname.  I called him and he saw an obituary in a nearby city paper of a woman whose last name was Lawhorne and informed me as a possible lead.  He said his father told him that his father came from Georgia, but we are still working on that. It was great to talk to him too!

All of this has been in the last 4 days.  I have hardly had time to follow-up on all of these leads, but I hope to squeeze in some time this weekend.  I’ve got major projects due for school over the next couple of weeks and have a couple of activities planned on the weekend, so we’ll see.  I haven’t even watched the tonight or last week’s episodes of Faces of America yet!

UNC Yearbooks Available Online 1894-1960

As a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, I feel urged to share this news as widely as possible – the UNC Libraries are adding old issues of the school yearbook, the Yackety Yack (formerly the Hellenian), online to the Internet Archive.   I find some irony in the fact that I graduated from there, seeing as how the Kemp P. Battle, former University president from 1876-1891 was my ancestors’ slaveowner, but oh well.  (Kalonji tells me I should seek retribution :-)).

For anyone with persons of interest who went there during this time span it is definitely worth checking out! Read more on the NCGenWeb Blog.